How Search Engines Killed Web Directories: Link Building Series Part 1

This is the first post in the Understanding Link Building Series. You must be surprised to know that by the end of 1993 there were only 623 websites with only 4.6% of dot com websites that means only 27 dot com websites till end of 1993. You can read more about websites data here. Global Network Navigator or GNN was the first web directory founded in May 1993 which was the first online Internet Catalog.

Note: Web Directories are the websites that contains links of others websites according to categories.

In September 1993 another web directory called W3 Catalog was launched and in January 1994 when there were around 623 websites A Jerry’s Guide to WWW was launched by Jerry Yang and David Filo. The name was later changed to Yahoo in March 1994 which was one of the famous web directories on Internet.

The problem with directories was that directories only contains list of websites categories according to the information they had. Suppose in 1993, I want to search for websites providing information on “History of India”. Web Directories were able to tell which sites provides information about “History of India” but did not read the text of the websites leading to incomplete data.

To overcome this problem a system was launched called Search Engines that had database of web pages. There were many simple search engines launched earlier but the true web search engine that was able to search through the text within the web pages in its database was Web Crawler that was launched in April 1994.

During 1995 and the next coming years many search engines evolved like Excite, Infoseek, HotBot, Alta Vista (became highly popular in 1995)

In 1998 Google was launched by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. With the growth of search engines web directories were almost killed. Users shifted to search engines for searching for websites. Even Yahoo switched from web directory to a search engines. In 2000 Yahoo started using Google index to show search results for Yahoo searches. Later they moved the web directory option at the bottom and further in coming years removed it. You can still access Yahoo directory here, but hardly anyone uses it.

Web started growing and in January 1997 web has approx. 650,000 websites. Check out the screenshot below to know number of websites and server till October, 2012-11-24

Total number of websites (logarithmic scale)

Every search engines was on the way to become popular but on the other hand Google was launched with a unique and revolutionary concept that later became the foundation concept of every search engines called Links. Most of the search engines earlier used to provide information based on the text on the web page but Google introduced the concept of Links. Google started ranking websites with good and relevant content also considering the links the web pages has from other websites. In my next article you will learn how links changed the world of Search Engines.

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